Huawei Nova 2i? Too Good to be true?

When you hear that a smartphone with an 18:9 aspect ratio, 2 dual-camera setups both front and back, 4GB RAM and a near bezel-less display is not a flagship phone, I’m sure you’ll tell me that it’s too good to be true. I used to believe that too, but then the Huawei Nova 2i came in. Check out the specs:

  • Kirin 659 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.9-inch Full HD display, 18:9 display aspect ratio
  • 64GB of storage, expandable via microSD
  • 16-Megapixel and 2-Megapixel rear cameras with AF, OIS, PDAF, 4K recording
  • 13-Megapixel and 2-Megapixel front cameras
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner
  • 3,340mAh battery
  • Android Nougat with EMUI 5.0

Design and Build

On the outside, the Huawei Nova 2i is aesthetically similar to the current build of the latest flagship phones especially the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S8. At the front is a 5.9-inch Full HD display with the latest 18:9 aspect ratio from the new phones. Something is different though, the corners of the screen are sharp instead of the rounded ones that we’re usually seeing nowadays. The near bezel-less design found on the sides of the screen is also accompanied with a small space at the top and bottom to accompany the dual front cameras and the Huawei logo. As you all know, this is a new aspect ratio on smartphones so only a couple of apps will support the new display but Huawei added a “fit” button on these apps to force them by zooming in.

The back sports a minimal and symmetric design with the flash, dual rear cameras and the fingerprint sensor (which is easily reachable) found at the upper-middle of the smartphone. There is also a faded Huawei logo at the back with some more info. As for the sides, you’ll see the usual buttons and the headphone jack is welcome. All it lacks are stereo speakers and USB-C charging port but those are hard to find even for flagship phones especially the speakers.

All in all, we really like the overall finish of the phone. It’s a phone that’s nice to the touch and really feels premium albeit a slippery.

Performance

Under the hood, the Huawei Nova 2i is powered by the Kirin 659 CPU accompanied by 4GB of RAM and 64GB expandable storage via MicroSD card. As for daily performance, the Huawei Nova 2i didn’t show any lag and the UI runs smoothly every time even when multitasking. Apps don’t refresh when closed with the help of the 4GB RAM but we do experience slow load times on app startup but that didn’t ruin the overall feel of the phone. The Nova 2i also held its ground when it comes to games as demanding titles such as NBA and Asphalt gave us decent frames with a little bit of sacrifice on the graphics side. If you’re looking for a budget gaming smartphone, this one is an option.

As for battery life, the Nova 2i’s 3340 mAh battery managed to go by a full day with light to medium use. It can definitely catch up with your social media, web browsing, and video streaming needs without the need of a charger. But if you’re doing graphic-intensive tasks like playing games and video editing, you’ll need to bring a charger just to make sure. It is also worth noting that the phone still has the old charging port and does not sport a USB-C fast charging.

Camera

One of the highlights of the Nova 2i is its quad-camera setup. At the back, you’ll see a 16MP + 2MP shooter while at the front is a 13MP + 2MP combo. Those 2-megapixel cameras have a sole purpose of gathering data for the bokeh effect of the phone which I have mixed feelings about.

In daylight is where the rear cameras of the Nova 2i really shine. The photos look natural and don’t really give many changes behind the scenes. Colors are vibrant and sharp which is nice when you’re the type of person to edit photos on third-party apps. The selfie shooters are the opposite — they try to overcompensate to give you a bright picture that’s over sharpened and lack of details. Here are some sample photos.

Conclusion

The specifications and design of the Huawei Nova 2i is really one of the best in the market right now considering its cheap price tag. With flagship elements like the 18:9 ratio and quad-camera setup, it really is trying to take down those smartphones that a league above it. You won’t go wrong if you’re thinking of purchasing this smartphone. In fact, we’re confident enough to say that this smartphone is the top contender for the best mid-range phone of 2017.

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